The Super Eagles of Nigeria and Iran will clash tonight at the Estadio Joaquim Stadium in Curitiba in both teams’ opening games of the 2014 World Cup with the Iranians hoping to cause an upset.
Group F action however began yesterday with Argentina defeating debutants, Bosnia 2-1 at the famous Maracana Stadium, so Stephen Keshi’s side must aim to score more than two goals in this game to go top of the pool at least for the meantime.
This is the first time both teams are going to face each other at a FIFA competition.
The Eagles failed to gather any momentum ahead of this game with four winless friendlies, including a 2-1 defeat to the USA on June 7.
The African champions have a better record at the World Cup than their opponents. The Nigerians reached the Round of 16 stages in 1994 and 1998 but finished bottom of their groups in 2002 and 2010.
The Nigerian side will be wrong to underestimate what Iran can do. The Asians coached by Carlos Quieroz were the third team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup across the globe.
The win by Costa Rica over Uruguay in Group D, a team without Luis Suarez who looked on from the bench, is a pointer to the fact that upsets could abound at this World Cup.
Uruguay meanwhile defeated Nigeria at the FIFA Confederations Cup last year.
Keshi could opt to go with an identical line-up as the ones he paraded in his team’s last two friendlies against Greece and USA.
However one position which could be hard to predict who starts is the left-back role.
Elderson Echiejile’s injury in the friendly against Greece ensured that Ejike Uzoenyi is recalled to the fold but the Rangers FC of Enugu midfielder who is also adept at the number 3 job will have a battle in his hands with FC Ashdod defender, Juwon Oshaniwa, who despite most fans’ objection about his making the World Cup squad, put in a decent showing in the friendly against the USA.
The Nigeria vs Iran game is the second of the day and it kicks off at 8pm Nigerian time.